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Houston VA studies Current Approaches in Telehealth and Telerehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injury

Dr. Hilary Touchett
Dr. Hilary Touchett, a rehabilitation nurse, and Houston VA Research Health Scientist

The Houston VA Spinal Cord Injury team recently conducted a review of research from 2016 to present that has examined approaches to Telehealth and Telerehabilitation for patients with spinal cord injuries.

The Houston VA is one of 25 Spinal Cord Injuries/Disorders (SCI/D) Centers across the U.S. Each year, the Houston VA SCI team provides specialty care to approximately 1,000 Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury, many of whom travel long distances for expert care.

“Our team has been particularly invested in helping improve access to care for rural Veterans with SCI/D by looking at ways we can optimize telehealth experiences for those we serve,” said Dr. Hilary Touchett, a rehabilitation nurse, and Houston VA Research Health Scientist who led the review. “This review provides an overview of recent literature and provides insights on current evidence, future directions, and considerations when using telehealth and telerehabilitation for spinal cord injuries.”

Dr. Touchett said that while telehealth and telerehabilitation has improved health outcomes in the spinal cord injury patients, more research is needed.

“Other diagnosis groups like stroke have a much larger presence in the telehealth and telerehabilitation literature and we’re interested in reducing that gap,” she said. “We hope that others are able to build on this work by exploring ways to integrate and maximize the impact of telehealth in care for individuals with spinal cord injury.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a long and proud history of being a leader in health care research.

“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, VA was leading the nation by promoting telehealth as an option for care,” said Touchett. “The world of telehealth has evolved remarkably and we want the VA to continue being a leader in innovating and revolutionizing healthcare.”

Read the review which was published April 26, 2022: Current Approaches in Telehealth and Telerehabilitation for Spinal Cord Injury (TeleSCI).

The Houston VA Medical Center’s Research and Development Program (R&D) receives more than $20.4 million annually, to sponsor more than 600 active research projects. Additionally, this work was supported in part by funding from the Office of Rural Health Veterans Rural Health Resource Center in Salt Lake City.

The VA Houston R&D program is an essential part of the medical center’s mission and plays a very important role in the healthcare Veterans receive. The production of new knowledge, techniques and products improves prevention, diagnosis, treatment and control of the many diseases faced by our Veterans.

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